Vale Dr. Philippa Hetherington

The history community at the University of Sydney mourns the loss of Dr Philippa Hetherington, who died on Saturday 5 November. During her long struggle with cancer, Philippa became a prominent advocate and effective campaigner for the funding of new treatments in the UK, where she had worked since 2015 as a lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Philippa completed an Honours degree in European history at the University of Sydney in 2006, winning the University Medal. She went on the complete her PhD at Harvard. She was an expert in the cultural, legal, and social history of the trafficking of women, especially in Russia and the early Soviet Union.  She returned to the University of Sydney as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Glenda Sluga’s Laureate Program in International History. Philippa was an extraordinary historian and the most stimulating and supportive of colleagues. Our deepest sympathies are with her husband, Alessandro, her mother, Robyn, and her brother, William. Philippa made everyone’s life better; she will be terribly missed.

Chris Hilliard, Challis Professor of History, University of Sydney

2021 Lockdown Achievements

In light of how stressful the past few years have been for many of us, Associate Professor Frances Clarke thought it would be worthwhile having a reminder of all the great work being done in the Department of History. She has put together a greatest hits list, and it is pasted below. It is by no means complete; just a sample of peoples’ activities. It was originally put together in December, 2021, so it is already a little out of date….!

HDR Completions and Achievements in 2021

Peter Brownlee: is a current postgraduate student in history. He presented a paper, “Badham of Sydney: The Making of a Public Intellectual in Colonial New South Wales, 1867-1884,” at the Classics in Colonial Cities Virtual conference in November 2021.

Shayne Brown: completed a Master of Arts (Res), under Julia Horne’s supervision, for her thesis “Hindsight: The Development of Orthoptics in Australia, 1931-36.” The thesis was praised by the examiners for its contribution to the important story of the limitations and opportunities for women in the workforce in 20th century Australia. Of special mention was the biographical research into the women who constituted this profession.

Ryan Cropp: received his PhD in 2021, for his biography of Australian intellectual Donald Horne, with Mark McKenna as lead supervisor. The examiners were enthusiastic in their praise: I doubt that there could be a more impressive Australian doctoral thesis in the field of humanities…Ryan’s thesis is beautifully written with very many fine and even sparkling turns of phrase,” wrote one examiner. The other concluded: “The thesis is consistently outstanding from the point of view of originality, depth of scholarship, empathy and imagination for his subject, and significance for our understanding of the intellectual life and political culture of Australia, from the early years of the Second World War until the election of the Whitlam government. Nothing like this exists with regards to Horne and his intellectual contribution. It will change the way we see the Australian political culture and the influence of the political intelligentsia between the late 1930s and the early 1970s.” As many of you will know, Ryan has expanded his family while finishing his thesis. He and his partner have two children: Patrick (now 2 years old) and Hazel (just a few months)—possibly a department record for new life production amidst thesis completion? Ryan has, in addition, taught the summer and winter intensive Australian History units for the department, as well as a second-year history unit in 2020-21. Black Inc. Publishers have already snapped up his manuscript, and Ryan will be working on revisions in the months ahead.

Robin Eames: started a doctoral thesis in 2019. Since then, they have had an article published in Lilith: A Feminist History Journal and presented two conference papers this year, one at the Australian Historical Association Conference, and the other at University of Liverpool’s Postgraduate History Conference.

Emma Kluge: completed her PhD under the lead supervision of Sophie Loy Wilson. One examiner noted that Emma’s thesis “challenges inaccurate notions of West Papuan primitiveness and passiveness in the 1960s, thereby also challenging these notions as they continue to operate today,” by highlighting “the voices, actions, and historical agency of the people of West Papua who fought for freedom and independence.” The other argued that the thesis constituted “the seeds of a “pathbreaking book” that promises to situate “West Papua in global decolonisation along both Afro-Asian and Pacific axes, as well as the global indigenous rights movement.” Emma went on to take up a six-month fellowship with the Anglican Deaconess Ministries examining the Church and Decolonisation in the Pacific. In September 2021, she began a two-year Max Weber postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence. 

Jacqui Newling: was awarded a PhD in April 2021. Exploring the role of food in the founding years of the convict colony of New South Wales, Jacqui’s meticulous re-examination of primary sources through a gastronomic lens enabled her to argue convincingly that the ‘Hungry Years’ were not so hungry as cliched interpretations of that era suggest. The examiners praised her innovative research strategies and compelling analysis, finding that her cultural history of food, food security, and hunger brought ‘fresh life’ to Australia’s tired foundation story. They agreed that the ‘fresh, sustained and cohesive argument’ in this thesis ‘makes a very important contribution to colonial history and encourages a rethink of accepted wisdom’. Jacqui is now working at Sydney Living Museums as an assistant curator, specialising in place-based social history and heritage. She co-curated the ‘Eat Your History: A Shared Table’ exhibition at the Museum of Sydney. She is the ‘Cook’ in the blog, The Cook and the Curator as well as author of the award winning book Eat Your History: Stories and Recipes from Australian Kitchens. In addition to her food heritage projects, Jacqui curated the Enchanted Valley digital interactive at Museum of Sydney and the End of Transportation exhibit at the Hyde Park Barracks.

Ebony Nilsson: completed her doctoral thesis “‘The Enemy Within’: Left-wing Soviet Displaced Persons in Australia,” under the supervision of Sheila Fitzpatrick.  Her thesis was approved unconditionally with glowing comments from two distinguished examiners, who judged the dissertation “excellent,” demonstrating “outstanding skills of historical research and analysis” and showing “industry, erudition, and insight”. Her doctorate was conferred in early 2021. She is now a post-doctoral fellow at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Emily Paget: completed her Master of Philosophy under the supervision of Nick Eckstein in 2021, for her thesis “Modes of Engagement with Astrology in Seventeenth-Century England.” Avoiding the well-trodden path of examining the dissemination of astrological ideas in 17th-century England, Emily addressed the more elusive and difficult-to-study question of how a literate public—with varying levels of expertise—responded to, discussed, and understood such concepts and theories. The two eminent examiners of Emily’s thesis praised her erudition and her knowledge of the field, and both recommended that she publish her research. The opening remarks of one examiner sum up Emily’s success best: she praised Emily’s ‘firm and confident voice,’ declaring that the thesis as a whole was ‘a delight to read.’

Anne Thoeming: was awarded a PhD in December 2021 or her thesis titled ‘Herbert Michael Moran: An Australian Life, 1885–1945.’ The examiners were very complimentary about her biography—‘a fascinating insight into the life of a man’ and ‘an admirable work of historical recovery’. As one examiner wrote: ‘This beautifully crafted and deftly written thesis was a joy to read and examine from start to finish . . . From the opening pages, I was drawn into the story of this enigmatic, mercurial, and highly complex individual. Parts of Moran’s life have been covered by historians and writers over time, but generally the focus has been on his sporting achievements, or his medical roles, or his dalliance with fascism in the 1930s. Until now, no-one has attempted to pull together all the various parts of this life, in such detail and with scrupulous research. Thus, the thesis forms a substantial original contribution to biography and Australian history more broadly. In doing so, it creates a new genre of ‘the post federation Australian man’.

Luke Tucker: was awarded his PhD in May 2021, for his thesis “Devotio Moderna: Confrontations with Scholastic, University Culture.” The Devotio Moderna (Modern Devotion) was a religious and social movement with roots in the fourteenth-century Low Countries. The thesis explores the epistemological relationship between the Devotio Moderna and learned university culture. Using Charles Taylor’s framework of the Social Imaginary, Luke’s thesis argues that the Devotio Moderna developed based on an Augustinian Imaginary, a sense deriving from Augustine and his medieval interlocutors. By the late fourteenth century, this Augustinian Imaginary, long since sustained by cathedral schools and monastic education, now stood in competition with the universitas, a competing Social Imaginary that the New Devout could not reconcile with their Augustinian Imaginary and therefore rejected. By articulating the Devotio Moderna’s daily habits of reading, writing, and prayer, Luke’s thesis argues that this site of conflict between the Devotio Moderna and scholastic, university culture loomed large in the movement’s imagination. Examiners praised Luke’s “perceptive and fruitful approach” to his material, calling his discoveries “very insightful,” “exciting and extremely promising,” noting that the thesis showed “a thoughtful historian grappling with major questions and with impressive skills in synthesising materials” across multiple languages including Latin and late medieval Dutch. On 5 November 2020 (just a few weeks after submitting his PhD for examination), Luke and his wife Emily celebrated the arrival of their daughter, Beatrice Jane Tucker.

Shensi (Ethan) Yi: Started his PhD under David Brophy’s supervision in 2016, and his thesis is now under examination. In the past year he has published articles in Historical Research and History. He has had two additional articles accepted for publication; one in Asian Studies Review, and the other in International Labor and Working Class History. In addition, he presented a paper at the Chinese Studies Association of Australia’s Biennial Conference.

Academic Staff and Affiliates

Warwick Anderson: was co-chair of the steering committee on health and climate change of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences this year, drafting a statement on the subject which will be launched in February 2022. He was consulted on the lessons of history for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout by Lt Gen JJ Frewin. He successfully proposed the theme (Remaking the Humanities in a Climate Emergency) of the 2021 annual meeting of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and continued to serve on the national committee for History and Philosophy of Science of the Australian Academy of Science. He also continues to lead the politics, governance, and ethics theme of the CPC. He was appointed to the research steering committee of the Sydney Infectious Diseases Institute (formerly Marie Bashir Institute). He participated in the Rapid Response Information Forum of the office of the Australian chief scientist, giving Covid-19 advice. He serves on the editorial boards of six international journals, and recently completed terms on the Genomics Health Futures Mission (which awarded $500 million in grants) and as president of the Pacific Circle (part of the IUST of UNESCO). He has received funding for and begun co-organizing two workshops for 2022: one on the Past, Present and Future of Precision Medicine; the other on the Social Sciences of Disease Modelling (supported by an ASSA workshop grant). He continues to supervisor PhD, masters and honours students, as well as post-doctoral fellows. Warwick also published articles this year in Arena Quarterly, History and Philosophy of Life Sciences, ABE Journal, Social Studies of Science, and the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, as well as two articles in edited collections: “Think like a Virus,” in Preexisting Conditions: A 2020 Reader. ed. Thomas J. Sugrue and Caitlin Zaloom (Columbia University Press); and with N. Sankaran, “Historiography and Immunology,” in Handbook of the Historiography of Biology, ed. Michael R. Dietrich, Mark E. Borello, and Oren Harmen (Springer). He has competed multiple works that are now under review: an edited book with R. Roque, Racial Laboratories: Colonial and National Racializations in Southeast Asia; another edited book with C. Corbould and C. Greenhalgh, Social Science, Subjectivity, and the State: Social Surveying from Neighborhood Map to Big Data; an article “Viral Waste, or Covid Down the Toilet: Post-Colonic Pandemic Biopolitics,” sent to Somatosphere; “History and Philosophy of Science Takes Form,” sent to Studies in History and Philosophy of Science; “Collecting Dust, and Other Hydrocarbons,” sent to Grey Room; an article, “Planetary Health Histories,” written with Jamie Dunk and sent to Isis; and an article written with T. Capon, S. Lo, J. Braithwaite, K. Charlesworth, and D. Pencheon, “Making Australian Healthcare Fully Sustainable,” sent to the Medical J. of Australia. Finally, Warwick collaborated with M.S. Lindee on “Decolonizing Histories of Genetics?” for UC Press Blog; and, along with Jamie Dunk, gave an interview for História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos. Along with numerous lectures and seminar presentations, Warwick delivered the following keynote and plenary addresses: at the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes annual meeting; the German Association for Postcolonial Studies annual meeting; the Society for Social Studies of Science annual meeting; the Science and Democracy Network annual meeting; and a conference on Decolonizing Knowledge Cultures in Southeast Asia, in Yogyakarta. Additionally, he did podcasts and interviews with Third Spacing (Singapore) and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Philadelphia).

David Brophy: as well as teaching, supervising, and serving as our undergraduate coordinator, Dave published China Panic: Australia’s Alternative Path to Paranoia and Pandering (Black Inc) in 2021. He also translated Muhammad Sadiq Kashghari, In Remembrance of the Saints: the Rise and Fall of an Inner Asian Sufi Dynasty (Columbia University Press, 2021).

Sophie Chao: received a DECRA in 2021 for her project“Human-Kangaroo Relations: Reconciling Knowledges, Perceptions, and Practices.” She also secured Academy of the Social Sciences funding for a workshop “From Theory to Practice: Leveraging Feminist Approaches to Care at a Time of Crisis.” She has a forthcoming book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua (Duke University Press, 2022), for which she has already received an award: The Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award. Over the past year, Sophie has published eight articles on the intersections of ecology, Indigeneity, capitalism, health, and justice in American EthnologistAmerican AnthropologistMedical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and IllnessJournal of the Royal Anthropological InstituteBorderlandsThe International Journal of Human RightseTropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, and Art + Australia. She has co-edited a volume, The Promise of Multispecies Justice accepted for publication by Duke University Press, forthcoming in November 2022 (this project is supported by a Discovery Project grant received in 2019).  She also has three book chapters in edited volumes: The Mind of Plants: Narratives on Vegetal Intelligence (Synergetic Press), Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human? (Polity Press), and Earth Cries: A Climate Change Anthology (Sydney University Press). In terms of outreach and engagement, Sophie has given interviews and written op-edits and essays for The Conversation, BBC News, New Internationalist, Science, Asian Currents, TRT World, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research magazine SAPIENS, Food Matters, the Sydney Environment Institute Blog, The Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Fieldsights series, and the online magazine Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics. She has created three podcasts produced by Idioms of Normality, Talking Indonesia, and Visualizing the Virus. Over the past year, she has given two dozen guest seminars and keynotes; at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Concordia University, Cornell University, New York University, the Royal Anthropological Institute, Central University of Karnataka, Carleton University, Sydney Health Ethics, The American Institute for Indonesian Studies & Michigan State University, Royal University of Bhutan, HeartPolitics, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies, The Mind of Plants Symposium, Forest Peoples Programme, and Requiem: Sydney Festival, Sydney Environment Institute, Environmental Humanities Research Stream and Shadow Places Network,52nd Annual Symposium of the Australian Academy of the Humanities,American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. She has been re-elected as Secretary of the Australian Anthropological Society for a second term and appointed to the Editorial Board of Cultural Anthropology (2022–2025) and Suomen antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society (2022–2023), as well as to the Grant Review Panel of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2021-23). She will take up an appointment in the Department of Anthropology in 2022.

Frances Clarke: revised a History Workshop seminar in 2021 as well as creating a new third year seminar on the reverberations of U.S. wars and imperialism since 1900. She supervised honours, MA, and PhD students, and served as the department’s postgraduate coordinator, and one of the school’s postgraduate coordinators. With Rebecca Jo Plant, she completed a 200,000 word manuscript, Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in Civil War America, with which will come out next year with Oxford. She co-edited the Australasian Journal of American Studies, and gave several conference papers—one a special session on our forthcoming book for the biennial Conference for the History of Childhood and Youth; the other a paper at the Australian New Zealand American Studies Association conference in November on plans for emancipation in the U.S.  She also spent a good portion of 2021 working with half a dozen ARC collaborators on a book that examines the aftermath of war across two centuries.

James Curran: recently published The Last of the Dream Sellers: David Campese (Scribe) that uses an Australian rugby legend to understand sporting and political culture in 1980s Australia as well as the nature of Campese’s sporting genius. In 2021, he published a chapter on Australian foreign policy in The Breakup of Greater Britain, ed. by Stuart Ward and Christian Pedersen (Manchester Uni Press), and an article on Paul Keating’s 1995 security agreement with Indonesia in Australian Foreign Affairs. This year, he has almost finished The Costs of Fear and Greed: A Modern History of Australia-China Relations, which will come out in 2022 with NewSouth Press. And he has continued a fortnightly column on foreign affairs in The Australian Financial Review, in addition to doing radio interviews on the ABC and other stations on foreign policy topics and on the subject of his recently published book. An edited transcript of an interview that he did as a PhD student in 2000 with Paul Keating’s speechwriter, Don Watson, was just published in the winter 2021 issue of Meanjin. In other news, James has been commissioned to edit three DFAT Historical Documents Series Volumes on Australia-China relations, 1972-83. He is a member of the DFAT Historical Documents Advisory Board, which is appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Marco Duranti: co-edited Decolonisation, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Global Human Rights in 2020, with Dirk Moses and Roland Burke. He published several pieces on human rights and empire before going on parental leave. On September 9, 2020, he became the proud father of Sofia Hazel Duranti.

Nick Eckstein: is currently working on a book titled Plague. He recently submitted an article “Plague Time: Space, Fear and Emergency Statecraft in Early-Modern Italy,” for a special issue of Renaissance and Reformation. With Sophie Loy-Wilson and technical assistance from Peter Adams, Nick produced six podcast episodes of the History Department podcast How Was it Really? Nick and Sophie are currently working on series 2, which will start in early 2022. He became a grandparent for the fourth time this year, when Imogen Sarah Eckstein was born to his daughter-in-law and son.

John Gagne: in addition to teaching and supervision of Honours and PhD students and acting as the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Center at Usyd, John published Milan Undone: Contested Sovereignties in the Italian Wars. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021), as well as “Dinner with the Greatest Man on Earth, or, Erasmus’s Sword and d’Alviano’s Pen.” Sixteenth Century Journal 51:4 (2020): 983-1007.

Chris Hilliard: Chris’s new book, A Matter of Obscenity came out with Princeton in September and was launched over Zoom at King’s College London’s Contemporary British History Centre, in the midst of teaching duties and homeschooling. His book has been positively reviewed in Spiked and the TLS. He has published an article in Literature and History and had another accepted by History Workshop Journal.  

Julia Horne: was awarded an ARC for 2021-24 for her project “Universities and Postwar Recovery 1943-57” (lead by Julia with CIs Kate Darian-Smith (UTas), James Waghorne (UMelb), and Stephen Garton). She published “Mass Education and University Reform in Late Twentieth Century Australia,” British Journal of Educational Studies 68:5 as well as an introduction, with Nick Horne, to The Education of Young Donald Trilogy (a new edition of a 1967 classic, published by NewSouth Press, 2021). In addition, she co-edited, with Matthew Thomas, Australian Universities: A Conversation About Public Good (Sydney University Press, 2022), and created an online international conference, Classics in Colonial Cities, with Barbara Caine and Alastair Blanchard.

Rohan Howitt: After finishing his doctoral work, Rohan began teaching in the History Department, earning rave reviews from students and colleagues for his work in the History Department and for the INGS program. He will leave us next year to take up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Center for Environmental History at ANU.

Leah Lui-Chivizhe: in 2021,in addition to teaching duties and campus activism, Leah completed a book Masked Histories: Turtle Shell Masks and Torres Strait Islander People (Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing) which will come out in July 2022. She also has an article “The Coral Reefs of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait),” in Australia’s Coral Reefs, (eds.) Sarah Hamylton, Pat Hutchings, Ove Heogh-Guldberg (CSIRO Publishing), that will follow the book into print. She began several new research affiliations: one Indigeneities in the 21st century, with Ludwig Maximilian Universities of Munich and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge UK; the other Reclaiming TAWD, with Max Planck Institute, Berlin 2021-2025. This is in addition to her ongoing research affiliation with100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object, started in 2019. Her public activities include being the anchor for a Q&A panel at the Sydney premiere of the documentary film Alick & Albert; participating in the First Nations Speaker Series, a collaboration between GML Heritage and the ANU Research Centre for Deep History; acting as an editorial board member for the Journal of Pacific History ANU, and acting as an adjudicator for a Sydney Festival event “To Cook Cook or Not?” which was designed to challenge the significance of James Cook’s voyage to Australian and stimulate discussion about the narratives that define the story of Australia. Finally, she was elected this year to the General Council, History Council of New South Wales.

Cindy McCreery: received a Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2021, in recognition of the design and teaching in hsty3803: British and Modern European History, a new third year History seminar taught in-person and remotely in the new Chau Chak Wing Museum in semester 1, 2021. She received school funding to create a new research network ‘Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective’ and to design a website. As part of the network’s activities, she is organizing an international online conference in June 2022, ‘Going Platinum: Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022.’ She has presented conference papers at the Royal Studies Network’s international ‘Kings and Queens 10’ conference in June-July 2021 and the Pacific History Association’s bi-annual conference in November 2021. She has published an article in History Australia: ‘Orders from Disorder? King Kalākaua’s 1881 Global tour and the Hawaiian Monarchy’s late Nineteenth-century Deployment of Royal Orders and decorations’, History Australia (2021). In addition, she created a new ‘Promotion Pathways Programme’ in SOPHI to provide expert guidance and mentoring for academic staff at all levels around the promotion process at Usyd.

Michael McDonnell: is feeling fortunate for simply having survived another difficult year. He is thankful for supportive and understanding colleagues who made it manageable. He continued to make progress on several long-running projects, including a three-volume Cambridge History of the American Revolution, a co-authored monograph, with Clare Corbould, on the American Revolution in Black American Life (now under contract with The New Press), and another ARC funded book project on Revolutionary Lives: Memoirs and Memories of the Age of Revolution. The lockdown in the second half of the year slowed research and writing progress substantially with two children back at home from school, but he did serve on a Level E promotion panel, in various mentoring programs, as SOPHI coordinator for FASS3999, and had the privilege of being involved in the hiring of a wonderful new Department colleague this past year. He was also elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2021 and continued to serve on the History Council of New South Wales. Outside of Uni, he continued to teach Primary Ethics at his local public school, and serves as Secretary and Registrar of his daughter’s softball club.  

Kirsten McKenzie: while acting as our chair, spearheading the hiring of two new full-time Department members and a new three-year appointment, and wrangling us all into order, Kirsten managed to get an article accepted by the English Historical Review, co-written with Lisa Ford, “A Dance of Crown and Parliament: Empire and Reform in the Age of Liverpool.”

Jess Melvin: this year, Jess’s book, The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder (2018) was translated into Indonesian and will be launched at the end of this year or early next. As part of the launch, BBC Indonesian has filmed a TV special on the book, interviewing Jess as well as sending a reporter to Aceh to meet some of her interviewees and visit some of the places she mentions. She has co-edited a forthcoming book with Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem and Annie Pohlman, The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indonesia’s Culture of Impunity (ANU Press). She has co-written two articles for this work: ‘Achieving “Justice”: The KKR-Aceh’s Search for Accountability’, co-authored with Indri Fernida, Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem and Annie Pohlman; and ‘“Unknown People” (OTK) Attacks in Bener Meriah, 1999-2003, co-authored with Azhari Aiyub. In addition, she has completed several articles this year: ‘Crimes Against Humanity in Indonesia, 1956-66’, co-authored with Annie Pohlman, for Oxford Handbook of Atrocity Crimes (Oxford); and ‘The Role of Detention Camps and the Order to Annihilate during the Indonesian Genocide’, in Detention Camps in Asia. (Brill), all of which will be coming out in 2022. Jess is a member of the editorial team working on the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation’s Final Report, which will be submitted to the Indonesian government in December. In this role, she helped write two chapters of the final report: ‘Torture’, co-authored with Annie Pohlman, Putri Kanesia, and Nick Dobrijevich; and ‘Enforced Disappearances,’ with Annie Pohlman, Faisal Hadi, Linda Christanty and Firdaus Yusuf, both of which analyse 5,000 original eyewitness testimonies collected by the Commission between 2017-2021. She recorded a podcast, ‘The International People’s Tribunal for 1965 and the Indonesian Genocide’, for New Books in Genocide Studies with co-authors Saskia Wieringa and Annie Pohlman with Kelly McFall in January 2021. And she gave three conference papers: at the Australian Historical Association Conference in December, the Indonesia Council Open Conference in July, and the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference in March.

Pamela Maddock: has an article accepted by Gender and History for publication in 2022. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her thesis, as well as an additional article on an 1853 court martial case which many of you will remember as the topic of Pam’s recent History on Wednesday presentation in the Department. While parenting during lockdown, Pam has coordinated multiple undergraduate units: a core unit in American Studies, ‘American Dreams,’ a second year July intensive, ‘Sex Race and Rock,’ and a third year USSC unit ‘Dissent and Protest: Social Movements,’ as well as tutoring in workshops in FASS3999. For 2022, she has designed a new unit for the American Studies Major, ‘Climate Crisis in America.’ She has published a book review in the Journal of the History of Sexuality and written several pieces of public commentary around responses to the pandemic; one for online magazine, The Drift, and the other for the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website.

Briony Neilson: As well as teaching units in History and French Studies at Sydney and UNSW, in 2021 Briony signed a contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press for a scholarly monograph examining the history of criminal responsibility and juvenile justice reform in Third Republic France. The book will be part of their States, People, and the History of Social Change series. In 2020 and 2021 she held an Australia-France Social Science Collaborative grant, awarded by the Embassy of France and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia for research into the history and heritage of the French penal colony in New Caledonia. In 2021 shecurated an exhibition (in French) at the Site historique de l’Île Nou in Noumea, New Caledonia, which traced connections between the convict and colonial histories of Australia and New Caledonia. She contributed book reviews to H-France Reviews and History Australia, and has a chapter forthcoming in Framing the Penal Colony, edited bySophie Fuggle, Charles Forsdick and Katharina Massing, under contract with Palgrave. She contributed an episode on ‘Contagion and Confinement in the New Caledonian Bagne,’ for the ‘Podcasts from the Bagne’ series based at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. In 2021 she presented papers at the Australian Society for French Studies conference at the University of Queensland and at Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations symposium at RMIT. In 2020 she presented a paper at the conference of the US Society for French Historical Studies and the George Rudé Seminar; gave public lectures hosted by the University of Sydney (Australia) and the Site historique de l’Île Nou (New Caledonia), and at the University of London Institute in Paris; and presented to a seminar of HDR students on the history of crime at the EHESS in Paris. Since 2019 Briony has been editor of French History and Civilization, the George Rudé Society’s peer-reviewed journal. In 2020 she edited a Festschrift for Peter McPhee, and took part in a roundtable discussion on publishing at the Society for French Historical Studies conference and the George Rudé Seminar. In 2021 she edited volume 10 of FHC (selected papers from the combined conferences of the Society for French Historical Studies and the George Rudé Seminar). In addition to her academic work, Briony also works as a freelance copy editor for academic and trade publishers. Among the various titles she copyedited in 2021 were Julie Kalman & Ruth Balint’s Smuggled: An illegal history of journeys to Australia and Chris Bonnor & Tom Greenwell’s Waiting for Gonski: How Australia failed its schools, both with NewSouth Press. Finally, in one of the most satisfying developments of the post-Covid moment (and in order to circumvent the disconnections and disruptions prompted not only by the pandemic but also by precarity), she initiated an online discussion group for French-speaking researchers interested in the history of crime, policing and incarceration. The monthly online meetings bring together scholars from Europe, North America and Australasia for sharing work-in-progress and discussing published research. These meetings will continue in 2022 – any French-speaking colleagues interested in joining are welcome to get in touch with Briony for details.

Andres Rodriguez: Andres’s new book, Frontier Fieldwork: Building a Nation on China’s Borderlands, 1919-45 was completed this year and will be published in 2022 with UBC press. He secured an Australian Academy of the Humanities Publication Subsidy Grant and a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Publication Subsidy Grant to defray the costs of this work. While undertaking one of our most demanding coordination roles—running our Honours Program in History—Andres also created a new senior seminar in Asian History, based around an innovative assessment model that relies on student-led preparation of primary sources for each class along with a curatorial essay. Using his teaching relief award earlier this year he completed Burmese Level 1 at ANU and got a HD. Having moved to the Blue Mountains a few years ago, Andres dealt with homeschooling during this year of endless lockdown, while settling a family of nine chickens in his backyard. 

Hélène Sirantoine: As well as teaching and giving papers, Hélène has had articles accepted in the top journals in her field: “Mountains of Doom and Mountains of Salvation: Topographies of Conflict in the Early Medieval Latin Chronicles of Iberia,” in the Journal of Medieval History, 47:3 (June 2021); and a 27,000 word article: “Cartularization and Genre Boundaries: Reflection on the Non-Diplomatic Material of the Toledan Cartularies,” in Speculum.

Glenda Sluga: Was made a fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales this year. She published The Invention of International Order (Princeton, 2021); wrote an essay on nationalism in an American Historical Review forum (in press); an afterward for a special issue on business internationalism in Business History (in press); an afterward for Nationalism and Internationalism, ed. Pasi Ihalainen (in press); an afterward for a special issue Gendering Jewish Inter/Nationalism; an essay on F.M. Stawell in Women in International Thought, ed. P. Owens and K. Rietzler, (Oxford), which won two International Studies Association prizes; an essay “Global Austria,” in Remaking Central Europe, ed. P. Becker and N. Wheatley (Oxford); an introduction to a H-Diplo Roundtable; an introduction to McGill Beatty Lectures (McGill Press); and an essay in Remaking Central Europe (Oxford). She is editor with P. Jackson and W. Mulligan for a new volume on Peacemaking and International Order after World War One (CUP, in press); with K.Darian-Smith and M.Herren on Sites of International Memory (Penn, in press); and an essay in a special issue of Central European History with Ben Huf and Sabine Selchow (in press). Along with Sabine Selchow, she secured a contract with Cambridge University Press for Rewriting the History of Global Economic Thought. She has been an invited speaker or discussant at several panels at the University of Vienna, at the International Law and the League of Nations and the Max Planck, Frankfurt, a Deglobalization Workshop in Vienna, as well as at the Pierre du Bois Conference, IHEID. She gave book talks at RU/Humboldt’s Global History Seminar; Cambridge, Modern European History seminar; and Queen Margaret University’s global history seminar. She gave the anniversary lecture at the Sweden National Graduate School in History and has been a discussant in numerous seminars at the European University Institute, in addition to keynotes at the Hague’s summer school, a public lecture and master class at Utrecht/Amsterdam, and a lecture at the University of Shanghai. As well, she has presented work or been a discussant in 2021 at AKHF’s seminar, Peace and Gender; GRIMSE UPF seminar, the Humanitarian Reconstruction conference in Paris, an International Law Journal event, a Cambridge MEH seminar, the American Society for Environmental History, ESSCHE session in Leiean, and the Intellectual History Working group at EUI, and taught seminars at the EUI, run a summer school, and career days for Usyd and EUI phDs, and led a Centre of Excellence application with the ARC, as well as acted on PhD vivas at the Sorbonne, Oslo, Amsterdam, and is now on the European Research Council committee for their European grants.

Sophie Loy Wilson: received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) for “Chinese Business: Economic and Social Survival in White Australia, 1870-1940,” to start next year. Amidst teaching and service on the Research Committee with Cindy, as well as parenting in lockdown, she published “Daisy Kwok’s Shanghai: Life in China before and after 1949,” in K. Bagnall and JT. Martínez (eds.), Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2021); and co-edited, with Hannah Forsyth, a special issue of Labor History: A Journal of Labour and Social History 121:1 (2021), as well as writing the introduction. She also appeared as an expert on Who Do You Think You Are?

Emeritus Faculty Members & Honorary Associates

Robert Aldrich: retired from the department at the end of last year. Since then, he has published ‘Kingdoms, Empires and the French Republic: Colonisers and Indigenous Monarchs in the Asia-Pacific’, History Australia, Vol. 18, Issue 2, 2021; ‘From the French East India Company to the French in the “Indo-Pacific,”’  French Australian Review, No. 70 (2021), (his keynote  address at the 35th anniversary symposium of the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations). He submitted a 200,000 word manuscript, written with Andreas Stucki, and commissioned by Bloomsbury, The Colonial World: A History of European Empires, 1780s to the Present and is now awaiting reports. Along with Cindy McCreery and Falko Schnicke, he has worked on an edited collection on Global Royal Families, which will be published by Oxford. This work contains a chapter that Robert has written as well as contributions by scholars in Britain, Germany, Spain, India, and the United States. In addition, he has written four short pieces for Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LBGTQI+ Places and Stories, edited by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell, now in press with the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, along with several book reviews. Robert still acts as an associate supervisor for several PhD students in History. He was elected this year to Chair of the Advisory Board of The French Australian Review.

Ann Curthoys: In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession, Ann was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) this year. She is a member of the team which was awarded the Margaret Medcalf Prize by the State Library of Western Australia, for the collection The Carceral Colony, ed. by Jenny Gregory and Louis Marshall, published in 2020, which included her essay “The Beginnings of Transportation in Western Australia: Banishment, Forced Labour and Punishment at the Aboriginal Prison on Rottnest Island before 1850”. Along with Catherine Kevin and Zora Simic, she was a awarded an ARC Discovery Grant for A History of Domestic Violence in Australia, 1850 – 2020 in the last round. In terms of publications, this year saw Ligature Press reissue Ann’s For and Against Feminism, originally published by Allen & Unwin in 1988, now as a digital edition with a new introduction. Similarly, her article ‘History from Down Under: E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class and Australia,” was reprinted in Antoinette Burton and Stephanie Fortado (eds), Histories of a Radical Book: E. P. Thompson and The Making of the English Working Class(New York: Berghahn, 2020). Ann also participated in: ‘Histories of a Radical Book: A Roundtable Conversation on Empire, Colonialism, and E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class,’ with Antoinette Burton, Stephanie Fortado, Clare Anderson, Caroline Bressey, Isabel Hofmeyr, and Utathya Chattopadhyaya, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 22:2 (2021), and wrote reviews for Victorian Studies and Australian Historical Studies.

Sheila Fitzpatrick: published White Russians, Red Peril: A Cold War History of Migration to Australia (Black Inc./Latrobe University Press) in April.  The Russian translation is under contract with Corpus AST, Moscow. Her new book, The Shortest History of the Soviet Union, will be published by Black Inc. in Australia in March 2022, and co-published by Old Street Publishing in the UK, and Columbia UP in North America. Foreign editions are under contract with Alpina Non-Fiction (Russian), Presença (Portuguese), Bompiani (Italian), Academia (Czech), and Todavia (Portuguese, Brazil). Sheila has also published a number of articles this year: “Migration of Jewish ‘Displaced Persons” from Europe to Australia after the Second World War: Revisiting the Question of Discrimination and Numbers” Australian Journal of Politics and History 67:2 (2021); “Hough and History,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian history 22:3 (2021); “Wanda Court” The Top Paddock, online magazine of the Menzies Australia Institute, London, 13 October (reprinted in ANU Australian Studies Institute Bulletin 20, 2021); “The Prodigal’s Return. Voluntary Repatriation from Displaced Persons’ Camps in Europe to the Soviet Union, 1949-50,” Cahiers du monde russe 62/4 (2021), and “The Women’s Side of the Story: Soviet Displaced Persons and Postwar Repatriation,” Russian Review (forthcoming, 2022). She co-organized a conference with Joy Damousi and Ruth Balint, “Migrant Departures” at ACU Melbourne in May, as well as delivering a paper at this conference. She gave multiple other papers by zoom this year: “Half settled: Russians in Harbin and Shanghai during the Second World War,” delivered on zoom at international conference “Statelessness: Refugees in Asia and the Pacific during the Second World War” (Duke Kunshan University, China); “Postwar Russian Immigrants, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Cold War” for symposium with Joy Damousi on “Cold War Immigrants, Left, Right and the Orthodox Church” for Greek History and Culture Seminar at Melbourne University; “Resettle, Repatriate or Remain: Soviet Displaced Persons in Germany and their Options in the Early Cold War,” History Faculty Seminar, ANU, as Allan Martin Lecturer for 2021; “Displacement after the Second World War and the formation of the ‘Second Wave’ Emigration,” Columbia University, New York; “Soviet Displaced Persons and their Options (Repatriation, Resettlement, and Remaining), 1949-52,” at a conference on “Displaced Persons und heimatlöse Ausländer’, Osnabrück University, Germany; and ‘Writing the history of a “finished” state’ for the AHA conference, UNSW. She published 3 review articles in London Review of Books, 2 reviews in Australian Book Review and was Australian Book Review ‘Critic of the Month’ in September. Her additional opinion pieces appeared in Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Brisbane Times, ABC Religion and Ethics, and The Conversation. And she did radio interviews with 2GB, Radio National, Late Night Live, Between the Lines, SBS Radio Russian Programme, Pulse, Triple R, ABC Brisbane, and Saturday Extra.

Judith Keene: in the recent past, Judith has published ‘Amirah Inglis: Activist, Historian and Friend,’ in Ken Inglis’s festschrift, I Wonder: The Life and Work of Ken Inglis, Peter Browne and Seumas Spark, ed. ((Monash University Publishing); “The Spanish International Brigadier as Veteran and Foreign Fighter”, for an invited roundtable in Contemporary European History; and “Prólogo”, Per Imerslund: Un Voluntario  Noruego en la Guerra Civil Española by Mariano Gonzalez Campo (Madrid: Sierra Norte  Editores). In 2021, she was an invited participant (on Spanish Falange) in a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project on European Fascist Movements with workshops and an exhibition “This Fascist Life” at Weiner Holocaust Museum, London. She also wrote ‘Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, Founder of Spanish Fascism,’ for a 2 volume study relating to this project that will be published by Routledge next year. She worked (with others) on an exhibition & catalogue, ‘Art and Activism in the Nuclear Age: From Hiroshima to Now,’ for the Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney, which was rescheduled due to lockdowns and will now open for four weeks in April 2022. She is currently working on an updated edition of Australian nurses’ diaries in the Spanish Civil War, which will be published next year with Clapton Press, UK.

Mark McKenna: From January until April 14, 2021 when he took a VR, Mark was preoccupied with various goings on as Chair of Department. His latest book, Return to Uluru, written before he became Chair of Department but held back because of Covid, was published in March by Black Inc. Since April, he has given many talks and interviews on the book. It has been widely reviewed (in The Guardian, The Australian, SMH, ABR, The Conversation, Inside Story, The MonthlyAustralian Historical Studies, and several other publications online) A few weeks ago, he signed a contract with Madman/Thirdman films, who have bought the film option for the book. Return to Uluru will also be published by Penguin in the US next June, and it will soon be translated into Polish with other translations possible after the book appears in North America. He has also signed a contract to write a Short History of Australia. In the meantime, he has continued writing reviews and essays.

Roy MacLeod: was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020 for services to Education and History. He is the creator of ‘The Pacific Circle,’ a Scientific Commission of the Division of History and Science and Technology of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, which encourages studies in the international and global history of discovery and research across the Pacific islands, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and along the Pacific Rim. The Circle has recently extended its membership to the Indo-Pacific and serves a network of about 400 scholars and libraries across Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Its journal, The Pacific Circle Bulletin, is today managed and edited from Honolulu. Roy is a senior member of the organization’s Council. This year and last, he helped to organize the Pacific Circle’s contribution to the International Congress of the History of Science (Prague) and drafted a new Council to serve for the next quadrennium. In February, Roy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sussex, England for services to interdisciplinary and international research and higher education in Arts and Science. Between January and August, with the support of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, he devised and helped organise a nine-session digital webinar series, engaging 40 experts and students in conversation across a range of subjects likely to inform ‘Australia’s Future in Space’. The series, which ran for four weeks, mapped relevant work in Indigenous Studies, literature, sociology, anthropology, cosmology, international law, and biological, medical and agricultural systems, and explored foreseeable developments in defence and industry – all from thematic, epistemic and employment perspectives related to the humanities and social sciences. At the invitation of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), he delivered a virtual paper, retrospect on ‘Fifty Years of Social Studies of Science’, in which he traced the foundation and early years of what has become one of the leading journals in the field, and among the two most highly journals cited in its Thomson-Reuters Index category. As in earlier years, he has served as an assessor for ARC applications and for the European Science Foundation. He has refereed manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Australian History, Isis, and the British Journal of the History of Science, and commented on books manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press and other publications. Two of his earlier books—Disease, Medicine and Empire (Routledge, 1989), and Technology and the Raj (Sage, 1995) will be reissued next year. He continues to advise the Royal Society of NSW on aspects of his history and program for its Learned Academy Forums and for its Bicentennial history. He has advised the Executive Director of the Sydney Nanto Institute and assisted in the development of the Nano-Health program at the Nano Hub and is an honorary member of the Catalyst in Innovation Studies, sponsored by the Sydney Nano Institute and the Sydney business School.

Penny Russell: Since retiring in April, Penny has been chipping away at three projects: a collaborative ARC project on juries, justice and citizenship in Australia, a chapter on colonialism and modern sexuality for a multi-volume Cambridge World History of Sexuality, and her book on Sydney in the mid-nineteenth century as encountered by the emigrant family of Thompsons, her ancestors. The main subject of this book, Joseph Thompson, came unexpectedly into view when his grave was uncovered under Central Station during excavations for Sydney Metro in 2019. In November this year his remains were at last reinterred, following a ceremony at the Pitt St Uniting Church attended by many descendants. Penny wrote a biographical essay about Thompson for the occasion and spoke at the service, which was featured on Channel 9 news. She has written one book review for ABR, which has been selected for release on ABR Podcast, and has another in train. She has also joined the national Women’s Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography which advises on the inclusion of more female subjects in the ADB, and has been invited to join the board of Australian Historical Studies as a book review editor in 2022.

‘Going Platinum: Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022′

An international online conference via Zoom

Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective Network

University of Sydney, Australia, 20-22 June 2022

The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary, or Platinum Jubilee, of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. Since 1952 the Queen has reigned over Australia as well as several other realms beyond Britain, and to this day serves as Head of State. For many Australians, Elizabeth II is the only monarch they have ever known, with her profile, name or initials seen every day on coins, banknotes, stamps, postboxes, hospitals and government documents. Ever since her blockbuster first Australian tour in 1954, Australians have flocked to see the Queen and her family members on numerous royal visits, and many have eagerly followed her progress here and elsewhere in the press. But these visits have also drawn protest and debate over Australia’s constitutional position. Republicans have argued that the monarchy is outdated, irrelevant and unrepresentative of our modern, multicultural nation, while some Indigenous Australians have appealed to the Queen to redress their legal, constitutional and social disadvantage.

From 20-22 June 2022, the Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective network will host an international online conference examining Australian responses to the reign of Elizabeth II in the period 1952-2022. The conference seeks to recover antipodean perspectives on the British monarchy, including Indigenous perspectives. The conference will explore three streams:

1) Constitutional and political implications: What constitutional and political implications does the reign of Queen Elizabeth II have for Australia, both to date and in the future?

2) Material Culture: How do individual objects, the everyday as well as ceremonial, tell the story of Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

3) Media and Popular Memory: How have Australian individuals and communities ‘seen’ and responded to Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

Conference presentations will take the form of EITHER:

1) 20-minute conference papers presented live on ZOOM in panels of up to three papers per panel
2) Roundtable presentation of 3-6 presenters discussing ONE element of one of the above themes

Please send a 300-word abstract of individual paper proposals (500-word for panel or roundtable proposals) along with names, contact addresses and brief biographies of all presenters to Cindy McCreery at: by 1 December 2021.

Image: National Museum of Australia

Farewell to Dr. Thomas Adams

On Wednesday, September 7, 2021, Dr. Thomas Adams spoke about his role in the Street Re-Naming Commission in New Orleans in the Department of History’s “In Print and in Prospect” seminar series. The Department also bid farewell to Thomas as his resignation brought to an end six years of service at the University of Sydney.

Colleague and friend, Associate Professor Frances Clarke, took the opportunity to say a few words about Thomas’ tenure at Sydney, and his many contributions the Department.

Here is a transcript of Associate Professor Clarke’s speech:

It’s striking to think that Thomas only started work at the University of Sydney in 2014. That means that it has only been 6 years between his arrival here, and his return to the US, right before the pandemic hit. For those 6 years, he worked in both the History Department and the U.S. Studies Center. Given that Thomas worked across these two locations, you might not be aware of all he was during this short period. I’d like to spend a few moments acknowledging some of that work, because it’s a remarkable record. I’ll start with teaching.

From arrival to departure, Thomas taught 12 unique first- and second-year units:

At first year:

Lincoln to Obama

History Workshop: Chicago 1968

At second and third year:

American Social Movements

The History of Capitalism

History and Historians

African American History and life

Law and Order in American History

New Orleans: Disaster, Culture and Identity

The American Studies Capstone Seminar

Foreign Policy, Americanism and Anti-Americanism

Latin American Revolutions

Unnatural Disasters

Some of these were history courses, and others were taught through the U.S. Studies Center. They equate to 2 new units every single semester he was here—a record that is unmatched by any other academic I know. It speaks to Thomas’s breadth of interests and versatility, not to mention his willingness to step into whatever roles needed filling.

In addition to this teaching, he was helping to train our postgraduate students. In 2014, not long after his arrival, he and I ran an American Studies seminar for history graduate students. The following year, we ran a graduate seminar in Historiography and Historical Thought. Then, the next year and the one after, we taught the Finishing the Thesis seminar together. Occasionally, Thomas also ran ad hoc professionalisation seminars for our postgrad students. I watched him in these classes and got to know him well. He was ever whip-smart and inspiring. He enjoyed teaching students—and it showed.

Did Thomas ever seem a bit distracted or frazzled when you ran into him in the hallways? He had plenty on his mind. Let me note a few of the other activities that he was doing for us over those years.

For 2016 and 2017, he worked with me as the History postgraduate coordinator—back then, the largest service role in the department. But, at the same time, he held the position of the Academic Director of the USSC. This is a massive role, equivalent to being department chair, encompassing negotiating staffing contracts, helping set curriculum, and dealing with various issues related to the financing of the Center.

At the same time, he was supervisor or associate supervisor or 5 postgraduate students—most of whom have now finished or are about to do so.

Each year of his tenure here, he also gave a large public lecture. And practically every week he was on radio or TV, discussing American politics (he actually made more than 100 TV and radio appearances in the first 4 years of his work here). At the same time, he was writing for important online fora—including the New Matilda, Jacobin, ABC Online, the Huffington Post, the Australian, CommonDreams, and more.

He was, of course, engaged in academic writing as well—on a book, The Servicing of America: Work and Inequality in the Modern US; an edited collection, Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity, which came out with Duke in 2019, and a range of special issues, book chapters, and articles—15 of these published between 2014 and 2019 to be precise.

From a purely selfish perspective, one of my favourite things that Thomas did while he was here was to connect Americanists in the Southern hemisphere in a way we hadn’t been connected before. Along with Sarah Gleeson-White in the English Department, he applied for a major grant through the Faculty Collaborative Research Scheme, to create the American Cultures Workshop. They located everyone working on any aspect of America, set up a monthly seminar series, and paid to have speakers present work-in-progress. This ran (under new leadership) until the pandemic hit, and it was an unprecedented success. It was particularly helpful, I think, in providing opportunities for our postgraduate students—to give papers; to meet others in the field; to make new colleagues and friends.

Thomas is an enormous loss to the University of Sydney. I will miss Thomas because he was always interesting to talk to. He truly cared for our students. He’s a gadfly—willing to provoke the powers that be. Unsurprisingly, he inspired then. He’s an iconoclast—never just mouthing the latest theories (although he knows them all). He thinks for himself. He’s not just thoughtful, but also irreverent, funny, and warm. We swapped as many cat memes as we did teaching ideas or thoughts about history. He taught me a great deal while he was here, and although I know we’ll stay connected, it won’t be the same.

I’ll add that it is totally typical of Thomas to show up and give a brilliant paper in the immediate aftermath of a devastating hurricane, while looking like he’s doing nothing out of the ordinary. And it’s equally typical for this paper to be about the public and political function of history—on a project that drew in our students and helped them to see what difference history can make in the world beyond the University. This paper spoke more eloquently than anything else of exactly what we’re losing—a remarkable intellect, an engaged teacher, and a wonderful colleague.

The Department of History wishes Thomas all the best in his (many) future endeavours.

Second New Appointment in History

From Professor Kirsten McKenzie, Chair History Department

We are delighted to announce that Dr Roberto Chauca Tapia has accepted a continuing position in the Department of History. We hope he can take up his position in January 2022, although his exact arrival depends upon the schedule of Australia’s reopening of its international border to overseas entries.

Dr Chauca is currently a member of the Department of Anthropology, History, and Humanities at FLACSO (Faculdad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Sede Ecuador) in Quito, Ecuador. He received his PhD from the University of Florida in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Science in the Jungle: Missionary Cartographic and Geographic Production of Early Modern Western Amazonia.” Before arriving at FLACSO, he taught both in Florida and at the Universidade de Brasília, in Brazil. He teaches Indigenous, colonial, and contemporary Latin America, nationalisms, histories of knowledge, and histories of science. His research focuses on the history of early modern Amazonia, Indigenous knowledge-making, cartography, Jesuit and Franciscan science, and environmental histories of the Amazon river.

In a career that has spanned several continents and multiple languages, Dr Chauca brings a range of experiences to deploy in public engagement in Indigenous histories, environment, and science. His imaginative range of teaching and research will contribute new and valuable perspectives to the History Department, and we are excited about the role he will play in the future of both History and International and Global Studies.

We look forward to welcoming Roberto to Sydney.

Many thanks


Professor Kirsten McKenzie  FAHA FRHistS
Department of History| School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry    

History on Wednesday Seminar Series

School of Philosophical and Historial Inquiry
Department of History

The University of Sydney

HoW | History on Wednesday Seminar series
Semester 2, 2021

We hope you will join us for our lastest HoW seminar series.
All seminars will be held on Zoom, commencing at 12:10pm.

Please Note: Abstracts, Zoom details and calendar invites will be sent out prior to each seminar.

25 August | Hélène Sirantoine “Serendipitous findings: about the unexpected appearance of a daughter of King Arthur in a thirteenth-century piece of Spanish hagiography”

22 September | Deirdre O’Connell “Biography in a digital age: recovering the lives of a band of black traveling performing artists in interwar Europe” 

20 October | Pamela Maddock
“Corporal punishment and disease control in the antebellum US army: the case of Captain Sykes, 1853”

1604 treaty between Henri IV of France and Ottoman sultan Ahmed I
Wednesday 3 November | Darren Smith Le monde est un logement d’etrangers: a French diplomat in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean”

You can sign up to History on Wednesday at the SOPHI event registration page. Find out more at the SOPHI Events page.The seminar series convenor is Hélène Sirantoine | Click here to email

How was it really? | History podcasts

Why not subscribe to the Department of History’s podcast series
How was it really?‘ on Soundcloud.

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DECRA Success!

Many congratulations to History Department colleagues, Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson and Dr Sophie Chao. They have both won prestigious and highly-competitive Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards by the Australian Research Council, commencing in 2022.

Sophie Loy-Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Australian History in the Department of History at the University of Sydney where she specialises in Chinese Australian history. Her previous work includes the book, Australians in Shanghai: Race, Rights and Nation in Treaty Port China (2017)

Dr. Loy-Wilson’s DECRA Project is titled: “Chinese Business: economic and social survival in white Australia, 1870-1940.”  

This exciting project aims to uncover the social and cultural significance of Chinese economic activity in Australia. Documenting enterprises that Chinese migrants pursued, under conditions that restricted non-white immigration and labour, it seeks to offer the first national account of the strategies these migrants used to pursue collective economic interests.

The research will require work with large data sets. Court archives will also be used to investigate Chinese agricultural and remittance economies, re-centering Chinese Australians in the nation’s history. The benefits of this work will include the digitization of these records, which are expected to form a major online archive accessible to descendants of Chinese migrants, whose economic activity buttressed Australian prosperity. 

The project will reveal the full extent of the social and cultural significance of Chinese economic activity in Australia. As an additional benefit, it will underline to the 1.2 million Australians of Chinese origin that their past, present and future contributions to Australian society are acknowledged and valued.

Moreover, Dr. Loy-Wilson hopes help redress the perception of some Chinese Australians, members of a community that now numbers 1.2 million, that negative sentiment towards them has recently increased (as registered by the Lowy Institute annual opinion survey). Drawing on perspectives from the past, it will highlight the collective strategies used by migrants to successfully build communities and secure economic prosperity, particularly in regional Australia.

More information about Dr. Sophie Chao’s DECRA success can be found here, with the Sydney Institute.

Many congratulations to both Dr. Loy-Wilson and Dr. Chao!

New Appointment in History

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Dr Niro Kandasamy has accepted a continuing position in the Department of History from 1 January 2022. 

Dr. Kandasamy is currently based at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. She completed her prize-winning PhD in 2019 at the University of Melbourne on ‘Child Refugees in Australia and Internationalism: 1920 to the Present’. She teaches in the areas of human rights, global studies, memory, peace, and war. Her areas of research include government and the politics of Asia, migration history, disability, welfare service delivery, memory studies, gender, and the history of emotions, with a geographical focus on the Global South. 

With a career that spans both academia and the non-government sector, Dr Kandasamy brings a wealth of active outreach and community-engaged research experience to the Department, along with an impressive track record in scholarly publication. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching experience will make an outstanding contribution to our curriculum and research culture in both History and International and Global Studies.

We look forward to welcoming Niro to Sydney.

Many thanks


Professor Kirsten McKenzie  FAHA FRHistS
Department of History| School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry     

Chair of Department

 ‘How was it really?’ The Department of History on Soundcloud 

Study History in Semester 2

The University of Sydney

Travel in time and space with the Department of History in 2021
We have a range of exciting options in second semester taught by world-class experts in their fields. Find out more about today’s world by studying and understanding its past. Below are just a few of our offerings.

Semester 2 2021
HSTY2606: China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing
Explore a broad sweep of China’s history, from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries in HSTY2606 China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing with Dr David Brophy. An influential historian, public intellectual and activist, David has just published China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering

HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy
Wishing you could be in Florence? Let Associate Professor Nick Eckstein, internationally recognized authority on all things Renaissance, from art to plague, be your guide. Sign up for HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy and witness the extraordinary cultural flowering that occurred in Italy between the 14th and the 16th centuries.  

HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective
Dr Marco Duranti
, leading historian of human rights, teaches HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective. Why do genocides occur? Was imperialism genocidal? Is there such a thing as ‘cultural genocide’? We tackle these controversies – and much more – through a survey of the global history of genocide from the nineteenth century to the present.

HSTY2677: Australia: Politics and Nation 
Are we an ‘independent’ nation? Staying closer to home, in HSTY2677 Australia: Politics and Nation, Professor James Curran (together with Dr Ryan Cropp) take us on a journey from the colonial period to the present, raising the questions of political culture and nationalism we still wrestle with today. A leading scholar of politics and foreign relations, James is a regular public commentator and a columnist in the Australian Financial ReviewRead Professor Curran’s latest article here.)

If you are interested in these units and don’t meet the pre-requisites, you can submit an “enrolment exception request” via Sydney Student

What about a first year July Intensive to fast-track your degree?

HSTY1089: Introduction to Australian History

Australia has been called the ‘quiet continent’, but conflict has been part of its history since 1788. This unit examines the violence of convict society, frontier conflict and early battles for self-government. It maps the political struggles, contested stories and shifts in Indigenous-settler relations that accompanied the creation of a nation state after 1880, and explores the effects of war on different social groups. Finally, it charts Australia’s cultural and political transformation after 1945 into the postindustrial postcolonial society of today.

Watch this video to find out more about HSTY1089!

Find out more about the Department of History’s offerings, a major in History, degree progresssion, Honours, and much more!  Our Department guide has the most up-to-date information on units of study on offer. If you have any queries about units of study, please contact the unit coordinator or the SOPHI Office. E |

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Vale Neville Meaney

By Professor James Curran

It is with great sadness that I inform you that our former colleague and friend, Neville Meaney, passed away on Sunday. He was a scholar, historian and mentor to many, including myself.  Neville was appointed to teach American history here in 1962 after doing his PhD at Duke: he retired in 2006. His contribution to the intellectual life of the university, to the department, to his field and indeed to the country is vast. 

Neville’s scholarship on Australian foreign and defence policy in particular towers above the rest – his work on the period 1901-1923 is nothing short of magisterial and his account of Australia and the First World War, published in 2010, is the best treatment of the subject. It was in many ways his magnum opus. His documentary history of Australia and the World, his work on Australia-Japanese relations and his many articles and reviews on Australia and America’s relations with the world broke new ground.  His article on ‘Britishness and Australian nationalism’ in Australian Historical Studies in April 2001 is still one of the most frequently downloaded pieces in that journal. And his courses on the American national myth, US foreign policy, Australian foreign policy and Australian political culture inspired several generations of students who went on to either academic careers or senior positions in the Australian public service, including in the Department of Foreign Affairs.  

In our introduction to an edited collection of his most important articles, Stuart Ward (who also studied under Neville) and I wrote:

“We first encountered Neville in the 1990s—a decade where Australian political history was in abatement and a new cultural history was making rapid headway. Neville was untroubled by the demise of the old diplomatic history, recognising that international relations needed anchoring in the broader political culture of the nation, and required more than a faithful account of meetings, cables and policy briefs from the archival coal face. Its value and potential were diminished if treated as a limited sub-specialization. But he was sufficiently old-fashioned to believe that the past held out themes of defining significance; that not everything was ‘contested’ or ‘unstable’, and that the study of politics and ideas remained a valuable point of entry into the national psyche. More to the point, he saw politics and international relations, not as a cul-de-sac of elite mannerisms, but as an extension of wider social, intellectual and cultural trends, particularly in democratic societies where political leaders are obliged to seek a popular mandate”

Neville was also active across all areas of academic life – as but one example in 1976 he was president of the SAUT (Sydney Association of University Teachers)  the quasi-union body that represented academics. A brilliant tennis player and accomplished pianist, he had also  – while an undergraduate at Adelaide – represented Australian Universities in Hockey. 

His devotion to his students was legendary: Neville hosted postgraduate seminars at his home once a month that were occasions of great conviviality and indeed great rigour. It was where arguments and hypotheses were advanced, tested and subjected to scrutiny – mostly after bowls of Irish stew (which he made) and incredibly good red wine from his well-stocked, and terrifically well-chosen, cellar.

He will be greatly missed.

Neville’s funeral will be held at Macquarie Park Cemetery in the Camellia chapel on Tuesday 8 June at 2pm.  I will be delivering a eulogy on his academic career at the service, and my column in the Australian Financial Review on Monday 7 June will be dedicated to his profound influence on Australian intellectual and public life.

There will be a wake at Sydney University in the Holme building from 6pm that same day, 8 June.


James Curran

Professor of Modern History

University of Sydney